Community Memorial

Robotic-assisted Heart Surgery

Traditional heart surgery has been performed through a median sternotomy — a long incision in the front of the chest. This involves cutting the breastbone (sternum) to reach the heart.

Minimally invasive heart surgery uses smaller incisions in the side of the chest, without cutting the sternum. This method involves making small, 1- to 2-inch incisions instead of the 6- to 8-inch incision required for traditional heart surgery.

Minimally invasive surgery offers many advantages over traditional heart surgery, including less scarring, less pain, minimal blood loss (and less need for transfusion), a greatly reduced risk for infection, shorter hospital stay and faster return to normal activities. Patients experience the same success rates as with traditional heart surgery.

Benefits of da Vinci®

The da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System takes minimally invasive heart surgery one step further. The system gives the surgeon improved magnification, precise robotic movements and a three-dimension view of the surgical site, delivering unmatched precision for performing complex and delicate heart procedures. Robotic mitral valve surgery is becoming popular at many centers around the world.

The da Vinci® Surgical System is composed of three components: a surgeon console to operate the robot, a computerized control system and video tower, plus four "arms" — one for the camera and three for instruments. To perform surgery, the surgeon first makes three small incisions or "ports" through the ribs, on the patient's right or left side. The surgical instruments (attached to the robotic arms) and a camera are placed through the ports. A fourth port may be created to take heart valves and sutures in or out.

During surgery, the surgeon views a three-dimensional image of the surgical site from the tiny camera inside the patient. At the console, the surgeon uses the robot’s arms to control the movement and placement of the surgical instruments. The robot's "arm and wrist" movements mimic those of the surgeon and enhance his precision.

Most heart procedures that can be done through a minimally invasive approach can be done robotically. These include:

  • Mitral valve repair and replacement
  • Coronary artery bypass graft
  • Surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation
  • Thoracic aneurysm repair
  • Atherectomy for coronary artery disease
  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Re-operative surgery and other procedures
    • Atrial septal defect (ASD) repair
    • Patent foramen ovale (PFO) repair
    • Combined mitral and tricuspid valve surgery
    • Removing tumors in the heart
    • Placement of leads for a pacemaker
    • Aortic valve replacement


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Related Resources


  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery
  • Health Library

    Tests and Procedures

  • Robotic Cardiac Surgery